Researchers make a pitch in a recent special issue of Educational Researcher for a broader, cross-disciplinary, and more evidence-based approach to conquering school violence problems.
“School violence is not a single problem with a single solution,” said guest editor Matthew J. Mayer, an assistant professor of educational psychology at Rutgers University in New Brunswick, N.J. “We all work with similar youths, but sometimes we’ve operated from within our own silos.”
Instead of initiating zero-tolerance policies and suspending students, the researchers argue, schools ought to think more broadly about ways to improve safety and discipline.
In various articles, they also say:
• Although school violence is an important concern, its levels have declined since the 1990s.
• Bullying, which is pervasive, can cause long-term psychological harm to children.
• To prevent bullying, schools need more-effective prevention programs and climate assessments that take a pulse on the day-to-day incivility that occurs within schools.
• School suspensions foster a downward spiral of academic failure, disengagement, and antisocial behaviors in problem students, and they disproportionately affect students from traditionally disadvantaged minority groups.
• Research evidence supports newer schoolwide approaches to improving discipline by teaching students positive behaviors and helping them learn how to recognize and manage their own emotions.
The issue was published by the Washington-based American Educational Research Association.
A version of this article appeared in the April 21, 2010 edition of Education Week as Scholars Call for Examining School Violence in a New Context